Readers Question / Comment - Does the Christian play an active or passive role in displaying Christ's character?


Thank you very much for your response, I will make a purchase still this week. I must indicate that I have been enjoying reading your commentaries and as such the bible has started to make more sense. There is currently a topic that I am researching, not necessarily for academic purposes but for my knowledge and understanding, the topic is about displaying Christ character and its impact on the Christian.

The questions that I have are as follows:

Does the Christian have any active role to play in the process of pursuing the christ character or does one have to play a passive role?
What is the role of the Holy spirit in building christ character
Lastly, do you have any commentary on this subject?



JPN Reply:

Hi Mncedisi,

does the Christian have an active or passive role to play in displaying Christ's character through their lives? The answer is Yes! : ) It is both. Most of the Apostle Paul's letters start with what God has done/does in the life of the believer and then moves on to how we are to walk in view of this. Watchman Nee wrote a good book on Ephesians that emphasizes this called Sit, Walk, Stand. First of all, God asks us to sit (which is passive!) The 'sit' part involves knowing our position in Christ, and what has been done for the believer. It is something to be understood, believed, and thanks given to God for. This is always the starting point. The 'walking' (which is active) comes after the sitting. I wrote a study to show the difference in what God does / what we do in a study on Ephesians which lays out these points. You can find that here:

It is probably a useful starting point. This is God's order is sanctification - how we live is based on what He has done and who He is now. Another study that helps understand this great position in Christ is this one:

Those studies emphasize the 'sitting' component. The walking component is based on faith and dependence and what God has done but also involves active participation in the battle against sin and the enemy. As an example, I'm currently reading a book called 'The Holy War' by John Bunyan. It is an allegory (like his other very famous work Pilgrims Progress) about the most beautiful town called 'Mansoul' that 'Shaddai' made for Himself. This town was completely secure having several gates that could only be opened from the inside. Some of these gates were the eye gate, the ear gate, the mouth gate and the feel gate. To cut a long story short the enemy of Shaddai, Diabolus, came with deception against this town and got the people of the town to open up the ear and eye gates. Having done so the enemy shot one of the great men in the town, Captain Resistance, and then Lord Innocence died after that. The enemy took over the town and started to remove all knowledge of Shaddai and His ways... And that is just the start of the book!

Reading this book brought home to me again what a battle we are in and the active role that we play in it. We need to be renewing our mind with the truth... we need to be in prayer and fellowship and reading God's word to do this. We need to be careful of what we are opening our eye gate and ear gate to see and hear.

In terms of the life of the Lord being seen through our life, Major Ian Thomas used to say that there is a 'three-fold moral interlock that lets God be God in a man'. And that is 'a love for God, leading to a dependence upon God, leading to obedience to God'. That has been useful for me. It emphasizes both the active and passive role we play. Passive in that we don't have what it takes ourselves to live this Christian life. It takes His life in us to do that and so we are to depend upon God for this. Active in that based on that dependence and His strength we are to obey what He says.

In terms of studies on this, there are a few that, while not directly on the active vs passive role, should help. Firstly, there is a study on what the Holy Spirit does in our life and how His influence can be quenched. This is here:

The study on Amalek which shows more of the dependence upon God aspect in our battle against the flesh could be useful:

Also the last study in Ruth speaking of our ongoing redemption may help:

Also some of the more recent studies from Colossians chapter 3 about the putting off and the putting on focus more on some of the active part we play. Or even some studies from the book of Esther like:

Finally here is a similar question and answer from the GotQuestions website (which I like) which sums things up well and mentions the active/passive roles:

Hope this helps!